Responsible Holiday - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 2056251

Responsible Holiday

Instead of traveling over rivers or through woods, many of us rush off to Black Friday sales and a frenzy of shopping for gifts, decorating and feasting.

Now we are starting to realize the consequence of holiday excess.

This past Thanksgiving, approximately 204 million pounds of turkey meat went to waste — a staggering statistic when one in every eight Americans struggles with hunger. Americans also throw away 25 percent more garbage between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day than at any other time of the year.

Here are some suggestions for a successful — and sustainable — holiday season with friends and loved ones.

Decorations: For Christmas, choose a real tree or a potted tree that can be replanted to decorate. Consider a plant or succulent — none will expire in January or require disposal. Decorate with cranberry garlands, pine cones and paper snowflakes. Light the night with LEDs, which cost more but can last decades, use less energy, and don’t get hot to the touch.

Homemade gifts: For every occasion, use your skills to make salad dressing, jam, bread, cookies, that secret sauce, or hand out bow-tied recipes. Knit or crochet a scarf, hat or a lap cozy. Hemstitch a napkin, sew a pillow, or fashion a reusable tote. Create jewelry or an original work of art. Assemble a collage of family photos; add a rope or ribbon frame.

Pot seedlings or plants to give away. Try potting them in reused clay yogurt cups. Make a decorative wreath or bouquet with dried plants and evergreens, or tree ornaments with pine cones and glitter glue. Bestow herbs to friends who are cooks. Snap twigs into 6-inch lengths, bundle with twine, and give to gardeners to locate their planted tubers instead of using plastic markers.

Reduce rubbish: Use napkins, tea towels or scarves to wrap gifts. Or source and use only recyclable paper and cards. Smooth your used gift wrap and store it, and also used ribbon and boxes, for reuse. Earn the “Best Recycler!” award next December.

Feasting responsibly: Plan your shopping list carefully. Make meals do double duty by freezing leftovers, or mince and sauté cooked items to serve up a new meal. Forgo disposable dinnerware, which winds up in the landfill. Use your dishwasher, which uses much less water than hand-washing.

Giving opportunities: We all know someone we can help with dog walking, pet-sitting or handyman chores. Join all the many East End volunteers at Long Island Cares, Long Island Volunteer Center or United Way. Support conservation efforts by the Group for the East End and the Peconic Land Trust.

Gratitude reminds us that what we have can be enough. Let’s tend to our families, community and environment.

Dorothy Hom

Conservation Committee

Westhampton Garden Club